The moon's light sunk low behind the mountain's peak as Eleanor and Daegan trekked on, fatigued from the long journey. "Let's rest for the night, boy," she crooned in his year and layed her head against his mane. As much as she wants to reach the top by dawn, she, nor Daegan, can keep their eyes open long enough for the trip.
She slid off her mount and lead him into the mountain's trees, hiding out away from the main path. "As much as we need to get to Dream before dawn, we need rest. He will be able to wait until then." Tucking herself next to Daegan, she and the large equine fell asleep.
Morning arose with the smell of wet pine and obnoxious chirps from small Warblers, making nests, seeking out new friends. Daegan woke, nuzzling into his rider as she slept.
."Check every tree. Every rock. I do not want any outsiders anywhere near, do you understand me?" A voice boomed between the trees. Daegan abruptly jolted, sending Eleanor into the bushes.
It was time to get moving. Hair full of twigs and leaves, Eleanor mounted Daegan and they bolted deeper into the trees. It was too early in the morning to pick a fight. Dodging branches, they weave up the mountain's incline. The voices began to disperse into the distance, which relaxed their nerves as they continued to travel, but it doesn't mean they were in the clear. "Who would be searching the mountain for 'outsiders,'" Eleanor whispered as Daegan slowed to a walk as they continued, remaining off the main trail.
Eleanor frowned to herself, remembering why they were traveling to this extent, "Poor Dream," she whimperd. Feeling Daegan's shoulders slump. Today was D-Day for him, where he is branded to his stable in four different spots. The most painful of marks. Daegan knew that pain too well. Eleanor leaned backward as he walked and rubbed the muscles around his left flank. Daegan had received a message from a small feline character, who wouldn't leave him alone until he listened. It turns out it's more than just branding. Did they know what it was? Sadly not, but they were sure not going to let a stallion in need suffer the cruel hands of what sounded like assassins and hitmen. Sounds cliche, sure, but something was off about the story, something was missing. Eleanor's curiosity grew as they traveled further up, where the trees got sparse and all that was left was the mountain path ... unless Eleanor wanted to rock climb to the summit.
Neither of them had heard any of the voices while they moved forward, which could be a good or bad sign. Staying alert, they finally reached the start of the summit, a plateau of grassy fields and wooden stable-grounds. Peaceful and silent. Daegan's hooves dragged on the ground, the incline had gotten the best of him.
."Rest, Daegan. I'll call you when it's time," Eleanor smiled and dismounted, hunching low to the ground and slinking closer to the stables.
The run had reached it's highest peak by the time she had entered the stables, looking blindly for a horse of which she had no idea what he looked like. Each stable had names written on them, but what seemed to be a foreign language. Peering through each stall, she saw all sorts or unfortunate things from missing limbs to extensive scarring. Most mares and a small group of stallions were untouched, beautiful creatures, but most were marred by ... something unnatrual. Everything she saw made her cringe as she continued down the hallway of horses.
Near the end, she found a charcoal coloured stallion with soft dapple splotches along his coat. He had a beautiful thick tail, slightly wavy and had a cut short black mane. Pinning his ears back, he looks behind him, seeing Eleanor's crouched figure and faces her. A crooked, spiral white horn protruded from his skull. "A ... unicorn?" Eleanor breathed, in shock, "Dream...?" She shispered at him, he looked at her and hoofed at his stall door. Just in time. Eleanor smiled and unhinged the l=ock, pulling the door open for him to exit.
A loud thud echoed through the stable as voices mingled together, forming incoherent words. Growing louder. Eleanor, in a panic, shut the stall door and climbed inside. The words grew louder with their approaching footsteps. With her heart pounding out of her chest, she looked at Dream, completely calm, and focused on the door. Three shadowy figures stood before him, speaking in a language Eleanor could not understand, and starting for the lock. Dream hoofed at the ground and threw his head backward, his eyes glowing red.
Eleanor took that as a distraction, and started for one of the men, but was stopped by hooves as Dream began to grow wings and reared at the wooden walls of his stall. In a tizzy, the three men attempted to rope the raging stallion, but with each thrust of his hind legs, the wood began breaking. Screaming foreign profanities, they managed to get a rope around his neck, but he thrashed about, throwing one man against the wall and the other to the floor as the back wall burst open.
Taking advantage of this, Eleanor grabbed his mane and leapt onto his back, stretching out his wings, the enraged beast took off. Eleanor held in a scream as fear pulsed through her veins as they took flight and escaped the grasps of the stablehands.
."At least one of us has a plan," Eleanor exhaled, head still pounding with adrenaline. "Now, if you can understand me, land down by the base of the plateau. That's where my mount is".
Seeing Daegan, he turns about and landed nearby. Eleanor dismounted quickly to get a grip on what she had just experienced. Looking at Daegan, she knew he was just as shocked as she was, watching as the wings slowly began to mold back into his back.
."Let's get you out of here before anything else goes wrong," Eleanor smiled and mounted Daegan. Squeezing Daegan's sides, they quickly began trekking down the mountain. They were sure to be followed.